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Heck Rules in 7th Circuit Habeas Corpus Claim

An exonerated man’s pursuit of the Peoria cops who framed him for double murder will move forward after judges in federal appeals court said his civil rights claims for damages fell within a two-year filing window allowed him under  habeus corpus rules. Johnnie Lee Savory spent three decades behind bars after being convicted as 14-year-old for the 1977 killings of a friend and his sister. While DNA testing cleared him and he was released in 2006, it was only after his 2015 pardon that he charged cops and city with malicious prosecution.

That gap led a district court to dismiss suits against the city and members of its police department that coerced Savory’s confession during a lengthy pre-trial interrogation and without a lawyer present. They contended the statute of limitations under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act had expired, rendering the suits untimely. However, after hearing the case en banc, judges in the the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. In a 52-page decision, they cited the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Heck v. Humphrey in saying the fact that Savory still had the conviction on his record after then-Gov. Pat Quinn commuted the remainder of his sentence in 2011 meant he could pursue the claim in his 2017 filing under the principle of equitable tolling.